My mission is to find out how social media can be useful to advocate and express social and gender issues and movements such as the #MeToo movement. Through a collection of interviews and data, I hope that I am able to show how much social media can impact generation Z and generations to come in and out of the classroom.
The topic I wanted to discuss with the class was the effect on spreading gender issues and influences through the use of social media, and how this can be reciprocated in movements such as the #MeToo movement. I want to ask questions to members in my school community such as how comfortable they are with spreading gender/social issues on social media? How necessary does someone think it is? How they feel a movement like the #MeToo movement has been able to contribute to the success of spreading awareness to gender issues? The purpose in discussing the #MeToo movement in my project is to act as a first base and prime example of the way I think social media has the potential and ability to catalyze change. However, I also want my catalyst conference to look at the ways students in my school and community use social media in order to address social issues, which is the broader question I want to try and tackle. Throughout my project, I’ll be linking some social media accounts from my peers so that you can see how they stay engaged and active when discussing these issues online.
We are generation Z, a generation used to spending our livelihoods on social media. I want to look at the ways we are using our voices for change along with the ways celebrities, for example, are using their platforms for change.
What is #MeToo:
The #MeToo movement is a widely spread hashtag used all across various social media platforms. Founded by Tarana Burke, it’s purpose is to raise awareness on the increasing cases of sexual harassment and assault, especially in the workplace. When Burke first thought of the idea while scrolling through twitter, she wanted to mainly address young women of color. Survivors of sexual assault are now more open than ever to sharing their stories and seeking help. The conversation has now become widely discussed. Victims can now share their experiences using the hashtag #MeToo and in this way, social media has been able to impact the lives of so many. The #MeToo movement has been able to affect the awareness that we have on gender issues at this day and age.
‘Peeling back the silence’
-New York Times
This is a playlist I created of songs that either empower women, seek to understand them better, and/or discuss issues such as sexual harassment. The reason why I wanted to include this into my catalyst conference is because Spotify and other music platforms are becoming some of the largest social media platforms out there. Most of these artists have social media accounts with thousands, some millions, of followers and by using their brand(s) and fame to discuss gender issues, they are exposing their followers, men and women worldwide, to the topics and issues of gender. This type of social media can generally be overlooked but I tend to forget that music is one aspect of daily life that I am constantly thinking about, and constantly influences me, whether I realize it or not. I’ll continue to update this playlist as I discover more music and I have made it collaborative so feel free to add any related music as well!
Art & Social Media:
Believe it or not, art and social media can play a huge role in the way we discuss gender issues nowadays. Much like with music, art can express ideas that the spoken word is simply not able to. Art also has the potential to reach a much broader audience. When I’m scrolling through Instagram, or any other social media platform, and see a photo or art piece that interests me, I am immediately drawn to what the artist was trying to convey. What is their message and what is it trying to say? There are many graphic design pieces surrounding the #MeToo movement which convey the message of unity in women worldwide. Photography has the capability to show us what is going on inside movements, marches, etc. This collage, along with the other images I’ve scattered throughout this presentation, features some of my favorite art and photographs relating to feminism or the #MeToo movement.
Circle of Women:
Circle of Women is an organization that works with communities worldwide to provide girls in impoverished areas of the world the opportunity to receive an education at a secondary school. The organization has a branch at my school to help get students involved in raising awareness for the cause and uses different donation projects to raise money to help build schools worldwide. I interviewed one of the representatives of the branch at my school, Claire, on Circle’s involvement on campus and how she feels it has been affected by the use of social media. This is a great way to see how my community in Atlanta is involved with spreading women’s issues worldwide and receiving a little more insight on the ways they use social media to further their cause. Plus, it’s an amazing cause worth reading about an exploring a little more on your own;)!
Here are her responses!
How would you describe the mission of Circle of Women?
“The word-for-word mission of Circle of Women as shown on its website is to “mobilize students to provide access to education for girls without it.” To me, it means that we try to help girls in areas around the world where women’s education is either non-existent or very poor. This is a huge issue to address because when girls don’t have access to school, the rest of their opportunities in life are significantly limited, and they are exposed to many dangers.”
Why do you think it’s important that we have a branch of Circle of Women on this campus?
“I think it’s especially important to have a Circle branch at Westminster because we are bringing an issue in third-world countries right into our own community. Oftentimes Westminster kids forget how lucky we are to go to an excellent, safe school, so Circle’s mission helps us realize how lucky we are. It also gives us an opportunity to give girls on opposite sides of the world the same positive experience that we have.”
How have you seen Circle as a catalyst for change at school and in your/our community? How have you seen it benefit the community?
“As far as I know, I don’t think Circle has inspired any major changes in the school, but I definitely think that the general awareness of the community has increased. I think the campaign that benefits our community the most is definitely our photo/poster campaign, where we take photos of students, teachers, and faculty holding up a sign that says “every girl can ____” (they fill in the blank). This campaign is especially effective in creating awareness among all different age groups, as well as men.”
How does Circle of Women effectively use social media to discuss gender-based and women’s issues? How does it do so in terms of a global context?
“I don’t have Instagram, but from what I’ve seen on Circle of Women’s Facebook page as well as hearing about Circle’s social media in general, we use social media in two ways: campaigns and awareness. As a Westminster chapter, we have our volunteers post a picture of themselves doing something they love and Westminster, and encourage others to donate by talking about the lack of women’s education globally. For specific projects, Circle of Women will post updates as well as pictures on their social media pages.”
(The Circle of Women Facebook page has a lot of great posts about the projects we are doing around the world so check that out!)
What are some advantages or disadvantages you see with using social media to campaign projects, etc.
“One advantage to using social media is that we can reach a very large group of people quickly, because it will appear in everyone’s feeds. You can also use pictures, and that can be really powerful when trying to show how girls suffer from a lack of education. A disadvantage to social media is that oftentimes, people scroll through our posts very quickly so they don’t absorb it and don’t get the message. Thus, it is unsuccessful because people might not be compelled enough to donate if they scroll right past the post.”
Here are some twitter accounts that I personally follow to stay engaged in topics regarding gender, lgbtq+, race, and other social issues going on, not just in my community, but worldwide. Some are celebrities, some are organizations, but they all help me become more aware and all take the time to voice their own opinions regarding change in our society.
TIMES UP: The TIMES UP twitter account is used to advocate for equality in the workplace between men and women. They retweet any stories that are relevant to the cause or any type of article or news story that uses the hashtag #TIMESUP.
Gabrielle Union: Gabrielle Union is an American actress and activist. At 19 years old, she was attacked and raped while working a part-time job at a Payless shoe store. Since then, she has been an advocate and voice for sexual assault victims and other victims of injustice. She uses her twitter to share the stories of those left unheard and spread awareness to issues of injustice going on in America nowadays.
Organization to follow: Twitter accounts such as the Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, AP Politics, and UNGEI are all organizations that seek to explore human rights issues, gender issues, and political issues in a global context. The ACLU and AP Politics are specific to America and the HRW and ACLU discuss global issues.
Yara Shahidi: Yara Shahidi is an American actress and advocate. At only 18 years old, she is a role model to so many because of her constant advocacy regarding various social issues and movements such as #MeToo and the Black Lives Matter movement. She uses her twitter to speak her opinion on these issues.
Feminist Culture: The Feminist Culture twitter account is used to discuss and inform people on women’s rights and issues all over the world.
Anti Violence: Anti Violence spreads awareness to issues that threaten the safety of women, lgbtq+ voices, minority groups, etc.
Me Too: Finally, I couldn’t not include Me Too’s twitter account which talks all things #MeToo related. If you want any more information after reading this project make sure to check it out!
My Twitter: Here is a link to my twitter in case you want to see how I stay active in trying to spread awareness to issues and causes I am passionate about!
These are some interviews I wanted to share from students at my private high school in Atlanta, Georgia. I wanted to get their input on how they feel social media has (or hasn’t) affected or sparked the #MeToo movement. These students were willing to be a part of my project.
Basis of the Questions I asked (these may vary depending on the person and their background):
How has a movement like #METOO possibly affected the way you feel about feminism and social media?
How comfortable are you sharing social issues on social media?
How important do you think it is to spread social issues on social media?
Do you see any negative effects with using social media? (like how women’s careers could be destroyed with an image)?
Do you think there’s a difference between using social media as woman as opposed to a man?
Here is Saige’s twitter (first girl in video), in case you want to see how she actively uses social media to bring awareness to issues she’s passionate about!
Written Responses (some people felt more comfortable simply typing out their responses):
Student 1: Drew (female)
1.”I’ve been a feminist since long before the #MeToo movement and have always been comfortable sharing my opinions on women’s issues on social media because i’ve never been afraid of what others might think. for many of my shier feminist friends, however, the #MeToo movement has been beneficial because it’s opened the general public’s eyes to the fact that sexual harassment and misogyny happens all around them—it isn’t just something “crazy feminists” complain about on social media because they’re trying to get a reaction out of people. even though it’s horrible that #MeToo has to be a thing at all, i feel like it’s opened up a dialogue about feminism and women’s rights both on and off social media that couldn’t have happened before. plus, it’s created a safe space for women to share their stories online, which is always a good thing.”
2.”I’m super comfortable sharing my opinions on social issues online. if i didn’t, i wouldn’t feel like i was being true to myself or even being a good person at all. every time you post something, you have the chance to educate someone who may otherwise be completely clueless about the existence of a debate, problem, or incident, which i think is a power more people should use to try to better the world rather than hiding their opinions online because they’re afraid people might think they’re weird.”
3.”uhhhhh i sorta answered this in 2″
4.”I think there’s negative effects to everything in the world. while it can obviously be used to harass or bully people, i think the benefits of the internet outweigh the negative aspects.”
5.”Social media, especially instagram, follows the same vicious cycle as the rest of the world: society places a woman’s value on the way she looks so she always feels pressured to look perfect, which then only starts the cycle over again because society sees the vast majority of women looking perfect all the time and then, when they see someone who doesn’t look that way, doesn’t value them as highly because they’re not the norm. i think that definitely makes using social media different for girls than guys because we’re expected to be perfect all the time while they’re just allowed to be themselves.”
Student 2: Sasha (female)
1. “I’m glad that feminism has reached social media platforms bc it reaches everyone and not just people who want to hear it, but people who need to hear t as well. it also helps the message spread faster and it makes it easier for everyone to get involved”
2. “Pretty comfortable because i’m always ready to square up”
3. “Very important because like i️ said it spreads the message to everyone very efficiently and makes it easier for people to speak up. Since this is applicable to both sides of the political spectrum it allows for (hopefully) intelligent conversation and both sides to be seen”
4. “Just as it’s easier for people to spread a positive message, it’s also easier for people to spread a negative message, and since it’s not face to face contact it’s easier for people to work up the courage to post/comment very hateful and ignorant things”
5. “There is definitely a disparity between how women and men are expected to present themselves on social media due to gender norms and the notion that women should be ladylike or keep their opinions to themselves”
Call to Action:
I invite everyone to use platforms in social media as resources to advocate their opinions and to advocate for change. We constantly hear adults telling us that we shouldn’t be on our phones or that we are wasting our lives looking at phone screens 24/7. Well what if we used that time to help advocate for something we are passionate about. In relating to this Gender Studies course, I think the #MeToo movement is a great place to start. Look up tweets with the #MeToo hashtag and I think you’ll see what I’m talking about;). If we are constantly being told that our generation is one that focuses too much on social media, let’s make it a positive thing! Anything as simple as retweeting a tweet that helps voice your opinion, getting involved in women’s and social organizations on your schools’ campus, or even just discussing something like the #MeToo movement with a friend who is curious, can help advance our society into being one (or even more of one) that raises it’s voice in opposition and advocacy.
Bennett, Jessica, et al. “The #MeToo Moment.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Feb. 2018, www.nytimes.com/series/metoo-moment.
Brockes, Emma. “Me Too Founder Tarana Burke: ‘You Have to Use Your Privilege to Serve Other People’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 15 Jan. 2018, www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/15/me-too-founder-tarana-burke-women-sexual-assault.
Codrea-rado, Anna. “#MeToo Floods Social Media With Stories of Harassment and Assault.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Oct. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/technology/metoo-twitter-facebook.html.
“Many actors to wear black in solidarity with #MeToo movement at Golden Globes.” Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada], 6 Jan. 2018, p. A11. Global Issues In Context, http://link.galegroup.com.westminster.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/A521593327/GIC?u=atla10186&sid=GIC&xid=c26051c8. Accessed 26 Mar. 2018.
Nakagawa, Kathy, and Angela E. Arzubiaga. “The Use of Social Media in Teaching Race.” Adult Learning, vol. 25, no. 3, 2014, pp. 103–110. Academic Search Complete [EBSCO], doi:10.1177/1045159514534190.
Tarano, Ana. Tracking #Metoo on Twitter to Predict Engagement in the Movement. cs229.stanford.edu/proj2017/final-reports/5242768.pdf.
You Are Not Alone. “Me Too.” You Are Not Alone, metoomvmt.org/.